36 Years To Become Real

Rules and I don’t get along well; I find they chafe and I may be severely allergic to several varieties of them, yet I have one rule for my birthday –  I am allowed to do whatever I want to do without apology.

  • For those of you who know me well, the no-rules-rule makes sense.

Today is my 36th birthday.

After 5 days straight of work, coaching clients, evening classes, hosting a small dinner party, two Christmas parties, jazz and wine with friends and then a late night of dinner, drinks and dancing with friends who also have December birthdays which took me firmly into my actual birthday this morning, ‘being a hermit‘ topped the list of things I wanted to do for my birthday.

  • Being a hermit and soulful reflection go hand in hand in my world.

This morning after waking up at 6:45 am despite being out until well past midnight, I decided to hike to the edge of the river valley ravine with a latte in hand and watch the sunrise while reflecting on my last year.

Donloree Edmonton

This year has brought about a few more laugh lines around my eyes, the crease between my eyebrows has taken up more permanence and I continue to lose ground in the fight against cellulite and none of it actually bothers me.

  • The gift of this year was fully stepping into what it means to be real.

I am a very real woman, so real it hurts and yet there is no other way I would want to be.

The Velveteen Rabbit.

Earlier in the year during one of my weekly library runs where I illegally park downtown for 3 minutes, sprint past homeless men while they comment loudly on my ability to run in high heel and then grab all the books and DVDs I put on hold so I don’t have to actually go find the books on the shelves, I grabbed the Velveteen Rabbit off a featured shelf at the front of the library.



Nostalgia captures me when I least expect it. Velveteen Rabbit? What woman without children checks out the Velveteen Rabbit?

  • This woman.

I remember reading this book as a young girl and experiencing emotions which I didn’t understand at the time. Tucking it under the latest leadership book and memoir of the week, the Velveteen Rabbit came home with me and landed on my living room table.

Reading through it at the age of 36, I felt my eyes well up with a few tears. Suddenly, I understood the emotions I had 28 years earlier.

not perfect


Life is an hourglass glued to the table.

I started to understand the beauty of being real when I hit my 30s; suddenly I realized that I am built to go forward, life doesn’t have a reverse or pause button. There is no such thing as perfect and the only way to stay pristine is to stay in the box, but real life is lived outside the box.

not back


Its messy outside the box, messy and vulnerable. The more open and vulnerable, willing to take the risks I know I must to be able to live the life I want to live, the more real I become.

  • Becoming real both hurts and heals you – a mystery that you can only understand through experience.

Sitting on the bench this morning as the snow muffled the sounds of the city, I heard nothing and then I heard everything. I heard my heart and it is happy to be alive and living an extremely real existence.


The real life is worth living. Don’t underestimate what you can do with your life and don’t let it pass you by. Life is a gift; it is your’s to keep safe and inside the box or to break free and experience the gift of becoming real.

Do stuff. Dream. Risk. Try. Laugh. Work your arse off. Love deeply. Be courageous. Fail. Succeed.

Simply put — choose to be amazing, choose to be real.

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  1. Comfort with one’s own self, is a difficult path worth forging. It’s been fun through these years and this blog, to see you grow. In a very real sense, watching you has helped me grow too.

    Some time though, don’t sprint past the homeless men. Shake their hands, ask their names, and give them hugs. Yes, give them hugs. It’s amazing how human this will make you feel…

    • It is a very hard path to forge, but COMPLETELY worth it. I feel the same about watching your journey too; thank you for sharing.
      I will contemplate the hugging the homeless man challenge. I usually talk to them, help them as I can and embrace the humanity … just not physically. 😉

  2. I think this is just what I needed to read today, I’m struggling with a big move away from all my family and everything I’ve ever known. It may seem silly but I’ve never read the velveteen rabbit, but guess what I’m going to do tonight 🙂
    You are so right that life happens outside the box! I’m starting to come to terms with the fact I will always have bad skin and big thighs, and eat too many bad foods and for once in my life time, I starting to feel ok about that, and your words make me feel even better about not worrying about those silly little things 🙂

    And that last line:
    Do stuff. Dream. Risk. Try. Laugh. Work your arse off. Love deeply. Be courageous. Fail. Succeed.

    That’s going to stick with me for a long time… Thank you 🙂

    • We can’t change our past or genetics, the only thing we can do is take what we have and give it our all now. Learning to let go of the past and keep my heart open so I can receive and give has been the biggest gift of my life. Does it hurt like fire at times? You bet. AND it is full of amazing gifts. I have learned to think less about myself and simply take care of myself so I can fully be myself – I am glad to hear you’re on this journey too. No one needs a copy of something that already exists – there is only one you and we need YOU to be YOU.

  3. You really are amazing. I love your words and thoughts here. Your new blog look is terrific too. Thank you Donloree.

  4. Happy Birthday, Donloree! I absolutely love this post! Once again, thank you for sharing your journey and the wisdom that you’ve gained along the way.

    I remember reading The Velveteen Rabbit to my oldest niece close to 40 years ago. She burst into tears and would not be consoled. New to the family and less familiar with the ways of children than I am now, I was quite mortified! I don’t think I ever did read it to my own children! Perhaps it’s time to revisit it.

  5. Happy belated birthday Donloree!!!
    I LOVED this post and is exactly what I needed to read today.
    you are awesome! Thank you for being you!!!!

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